The painter turned, three reusable bags full of new art supplies banging against his hips as they swung around with him.
“Ezio!” he called back to his friend. “I was just heading back to my apartment, if you want to join me,” he said, holding up the bags.
It was then that he noticed that Ezio was running very quickly, and that his athletic friend was breathing heavily, like he had been running very quickly for a while.
“E—ezio?” he faltered, “What’s going o—?” But before Leonardo could finish his sentence, Ezio had reached him, grabbed his shoulders, causing him to drop the bags he’d been carrying, pulled him against the wall of the building next to them, and started kissing him, all in one seamless movement.
The kiss was sloppy, and frequently interrupted by the panting of his partner, but it was perfect. A small part of Leonardo’s brain was telling him to question the idea that Ezio had suddenly become attracted to men, but that part was firmly squashed by the rest of his brain, which had been in love with Ezio since the first time he came to pick up a commission for his mother, and was certainly not going to look a gift-horse in the mouth. Not when he could actually feel the small scar across the gift horse’s lips, after wondering for so long if it would be noticeable in a kiss, and never actually expecting the experiment to be conducted.
Free of the bags that he’d let drop to the ground, Leonardo wrapped his arms around Ezio’s neck, pushing his hood off of his head and grasping the back of Ezio’s neck. He kissed back, slipping his tongue across the tantalizing lips to tangle with Ezio’s. He vaguely heard the sound of a group of people running by them, but he was lost in this kiss that he had wanted for what seemed like an eternity, but never expected to get.
Ezio pulled away slowly to breathe, and Leonardo had to look at his eyes, to see if they were as glassy as he knew his would be. But the moment seemed already to have slid away from Ezio’s features. He was still panting, but his lips were curled in a smirk.
“Leonardo, you certainly are a Renaissance man. I had no idea you were such a good actor.”
The words fell on Leonardo like an anvil, bringing a sudden clammy feeling to his entire body. He floundered for a moment, until Ezio asked gently, “Leo, are you all right?”
Only then was he able to muster up the ability to say, “I just don’t usually get to use my theatrical talents.” It sounded cheap, fake, even to his own ears, but Ezio only smiled, picking up the bags that Leonardo had almost forgotten entirely.
“Well, you should,” he said.
Leonardo muttered, “Thank you,” falling into step beside him as they made their way back to his apartment/studio. He didn’t dare think too hard about whether or not Ezio had actually just complimented his kissing.
They walked in silence, as they often did, and arrived without further incident at Leonardo’s door, which the painter unlocked with a key he kept tied on a string around his neck. When Ezio had once asked about it, Leonardo had sheepishly replied, “I always seem to lose it if I don’t keep it around my neck. Like my mother used to say, my head would fall off if it weren’t attached to my shoulders.”
This was the third place that Leonardo da Vinci had lived in in as many years, but this apartment was by far his favorite. He liked how close it was to the university. He liked the open layout. It was also the most expensive, but his art was selling well. The spacious front room was built in an inverted L-shape, with windows on the inside of the “L,” that led onto a terrace that completed the rectangle of the layout. The door was at the lower corner of the figurative letter, and the short side of the “L” was Leonardo’s workshop, though his work often intruded into the kitchen, which stretched across the middle of the long part of the room, and even the living area on the other side. He had yet to use the magnificent fireplace on the far wall, and he couldn’t wait for winter, when he could sketch by firelight without boiling himself alive. But it was still summer, and the terrace doors were open to allow a breeze through the space.
The apartment also had some peculiar architectural features. The ceiling was high, but the walls of the bedrooms off the main room were of usual height, meaning that he had ample room to hang the bare bones of a wooden airplane which he had built in the hopes that he could finish it and fly it one day. The design allowed for both solar panels and pedaling to power the plane, and it was, or at least it had been the last time he checked, the only aircraft in the world to run on sustainable energy.
When he needed to clean the skeleton of the plane, he would climb up onto the walls which separated the rooms and take a modified feather duster to it. He himself needed a ladder to make the climb, but when Ezio had done it the last time, he had been up before Leonardo could even suggest a stepstool.
There were two bedrooms – one on either side of the kitchen—and a bathroom between them, taking advantage of the plumbing already being used in the kitchen.
“Leo, you promised to make me a meal the next time I came. You still up for it, or shall we order pizza later?” Ezio asked, depositing the bags on a workbench close by the door.
Leonardo jumped. He was about to suggest pizza, when he realized that cooking might be a good way to keep his mind off of what had just happened between them.
“Leonardo?” Ezio said, when he did not receive an answer.
“Huh? Sorry,” he smiled sheepishly, “I’ll make you dinner, Ezio.”
“Perfect.” The assassin grinned, before gesturing to the guest room, “Do you mind? I didn’t sleep on the flight.”
“No, no,” Leonardo told his friend, “Go ahead. Dinner should be ready when you are.”
“Thank you, my friend.”
Leonardo smiled. “How long are you staying this time?” he asked, trying to sound casual.
“Who knows,” Ezio said dismissively, already halfway to the guest room and having managed to strip off his hoodie and shirt before he disappeared into the doorway.
Leonardo stared after him for a long moment before he remembered what he was supposed to be doing, and set about gathering the ingredients for a pasta dish.
Cooking did, indeed, keep Leonardo’s mind off Ezio, mostly, and when the meal was at last simmering on the stove waiting to be eaten, Leonardo sat down at the table with one of his sketchbooks, which he had had to abandon earlier that day to get more graphite from the art supply store. He attempted, awkwardly, impossibly, to pick up where he left off, focusing on recapturing his earlier thought process.
A hand came to rest on his shoulder while he held the graphite away from the page, causing Leonardo to jump, a movement which could have ruined his sketch if the assassin had waited only a moment more, or touched him just a moment sooner. As he looked up, he noticed Ezio seemed quite pleased with his own timing.
“Are you at a stopping point?” the assassin asked, not taking his hand off Leonardo’s shoulder.
Leonardo glanced back down at his sketch, reluctant to leave it, before deciding that it was as good a time as any to stop for a while, and give his fingers something else to do before they started to cramp from holding the graphite for too long.
He and Ezio served themselves from the pot on the stove. Ezio brought silverware to the table for both of them. Leo thanked him, numbly, the intense emotions he had been able to set aside all flooding back into him at the sight of his friend.
He took a few bites of dinner, deliberating, before he asked what should have been the most important question: “Why were you running like that, Ezio?”
“Oh,” Ezio said, “I had a bit of a rough time getting through customs.”
“You mean someone chased you all the way from the airport?” Leonardo gaped.
“Well, actually, only their communications system followed me from the airport. That group of security guards just happened to be around when I stepped onto campus, and after that they wouldn’t let up.”
Leonardo narrowed his eyes in confusion, before remembering the sound of people rushing past as they kissed. “Oh,” he said, realization finally dawning on him. “And why the…?” he trailed off.
Ezio stopped eating and looked up at his friend. He gave the painter a strange, serious look. “I’m sorry, Leo. It was all I could think of to do. I was running out of energy. I needed something to put between me and them,” he said. He looked down at his bowl again before adding, “I didn’t think it would upset you.”
Leonardo tried to chuckle lightly. It came out as a cough. “It didn’t upset me,” he lied. Well, it wasn’t quite a lie. The act had not upset him. The motivation had.
“Then what did?” Ezio asked.
Leonardo jumped. “What do you mean?”
Ezio chuckled, the sound deep and rich compared to Leonardo’s thin imitation. “I know you too well to fall for that. You’re worried about something, and if it’s not the kiss, then I want to know what. Your company is much more pleasant when you are your talkative self.”
Leonardo gaped. “I…” he trailed off, finally deciding that a lie would do more harm than good. “Yes, Ezio. It was our kiss,” he admitted.
Ezio dropped his fork with a clatter, putting his head in his hands with a noise of frustration. “Leo,” he said, re-emerging, “I know that you don’t want to kiss me, and I’m sorry. It really was the only thing I could think of. I thought we were good enough friends—I mean, I don’t know—I mean, I should have thought of something else. I’m sorry.”
“It’s—it’s ok, Ezio,” Leo told him carefully, “I was just unprepared. You’ve never—I mean I’ve never seen you with…”
A strange look crossed Ezio’s features. “Well, that’s because when I’m with you, I don’t exactly look… available?”
Leo gaped. “But you… you’re straight!”
Ezio shrugged. “I am not particular,” he said, sheepishly.
“Oh.” Leonardo let the idea of Ezio being potentially open to his affection sink in, before he realized that he’d already been rejected. Even if he hadn’t known at that point, Ezio had still been bisexual when they kissed, and the kiss had still been nothing more than a diversion. What’s more, Ezio had apologized for it. “Still…” he said, his mouth dry, “I’m sorry it came to that, then… It can’t have been very pleasant…”
Ezio’s cheeks took on a reddish tint. “I… I’m usually not… I was out of breath…I’m really a good kisser…or so I’ve been told…” He trailed off dumbly.
“What? No, no. The kiss was…fine.” Leo could feel his cheeks turning pink, but pressed on, “I just meant that, since you weren’t kissing someone you’re attracted to, it probably wasn’t as…you know…enjoyable? As it could have been?”
Ezio grimaced. “I did not say that.”
“No, I know,” Leo told him, “But I wasn’t prepared. I’m usually a better kisser than that, I just…I wasn’t—”
“That’s not what I meant. I would say you are a…” Ezio cleared his throat, “A very good kisser—from what I have experienced—especially since I surprised you, and, I mean, it was probably weird because you’re not…I mean, I haven’t been here—and I don’t know if you’ve found someone—and I didn’t mean—I hope he won’t think—”
“No. Ezio, I’m not dating anyone,” Leonardo chuckled half-heartedly, “I’m just sorry that it was me you had to kiss, and not someone you actually, you know, wanted to kiss.”
Ezio looked taken-aback. “Leo, if I really didn’t…” He pressed his lips together, “It was good.”
Leonardo nodded, tightly. “Thanks.” He looked down at his bowl again, hoping to hide his emotions from his observant friend.
He didn’t know how Ezio managed to move so silently, but when he spoke again, he was standing next to Leonardo’s chair. “Leo,” he said. The painter jumped, startled, then reluctantly turned his face up to Ezio’s gaze.
No sooner had he done so than Ezio had braced one hand on the table and the other on the back of Leonardo’s chair, and leaned forward to kiss him.
This time, Leonardo was so confused that he did nothing, and after a few moments of Ezio’s lips moving against his, the assassin withdrew. Ezio backed up a few steps, fists clenched. “That’s what I meant,” he said, “I did want to kiss you.”
Leonardo’s mouth fell open. Ezio took a breath, and started to turn away. The assassin was so fast that he was halfway to the door before Leonardo found his voice to stop him. “Wait!”
Ezio turned his face towards his friend, shadows covering his expression.
“I did, too,” Leonardo confessed clumsily, “I mean, I do. I—I would.”
Leonardo was almost bowled over with the force of his friend’s kiss, and would have fallen if Ezio’s arms had not wrapped around his waist.
This kiss was as earnest as the last had been timid. Leonardo raised his arms to wrap them around his partner’s neck, partly to keep his footing, as Ezio seemed bent on kissing him breathless, and it was working.
Leonardo nimbly pulled Ezio’s ponytail out of its holder in order to run his fingers through the long, dark hair, as he had daydreamed of doing so often. At this, Ezio pulled him even closer, but it wasn’t until Leonardo gave an experimental tug on the raven locks that Ezio moaned into their kiss. Encouraged, Leonardo twisted his fingers in Ezio’s hair and pulled.
Ezio’s head fell back, mouth open, a groan escaping him, as his hands pulled Leonardo closer, close enough that Leonardo could feel Ezio’s erection pressing against his thigh, and he was sure that Ezio could feel his just as easily. He caught Ezio’s lips as his chin tilted down again, tugging gently and kissing harshly.
Both men were breathing heavily when they next parted. “Leo,” Ezio whispered, his voice rough, “Want you.”
“Yes, Ezio,” he moaned, and moved to kiss the dark-haired assassin again, but Ezio deftly avoided his lips.
“Leo, I will have you on a bed, or I will have you on the table,” Ezio told him, obviously fighting to keep his voice steady, “You decide. But I must have you now.”
Leonardo considered the table out of the corner of his eye for a moment, before he decided, “Bed.”
However he had thought they would make their way to his bedroom, Leonardo was mistaken. He was surprised enough to yelp when Ezio lifted him by the hips, wrapping the painter’s legs around his own hips. Leo’s surprise gave way to appreciation for this new angle within moments, however, especially as Ezio steadily strode towards the far doorway, hips shifting as he walked.
Ezio shoved the door open with his hip, before all but tumbling into the room and rolling them both onto the bed. He ended up above Leonardo, grinding down against the artist and biting down on his lip as Leonardo tugged at his hair.
So much of Leonardo wanted to savor this moment—to memorize every detail as it happened—but he knew that this time, at least, would be a rough tumble, rather than a slow waltz. Just before he gave in to that frantic energy, he prayed that there would be another time, that this wasn’t just a way for Ezio to let off steam. If it were anyone but Ezio, Leonardo would have defined the terms of their relationship long before falling into bed with him, but Ezio was a force of nature which Leonardo da Vinci had no hope of combatting, even if he’d wanted to. Leonardo stopped analyzing, then, and let himself fall off an edge he hadn’t known he’d been balanced on, and he moaned, bucking up against his partner.
Ezio smiled to himself at the change in the artist’s energy, though Leonardo’s vigor drew a gasp from the assassin when he began to grind upward into Ezio. For a moment, Ezio matched Leonardo thrust for thrust, but then he growled, and drew his hips away. Leonardo would have asked him what was wrong, if Ezio’s hands were not suddenly at Leonardo’s pants, deftly flicking apart the button and opening the zipper. Ezio repeated the action on himself before once again aligning their hips. At that moment, Leonardo’s lust-addled brain pointed out that this might be too rough-and-tumble.
“Ezio!” Leonardo stopped the man above him as gently as he could, pressed the flat of his palm into the assassin’s chest.
“What? What is it? What’s wrong?” As Ezio regained higher brain function, his tone went from slightly annoyed to concerned, and he looked deeply into Leonardo’s eyes to assess what had made the artist stop.
Leonardo hesitated for a moment, trying to think of a way to say, “I want this to mean more,” without sounding like a needy idiot. To stall for time, he opened the buttons of his shirt, leaning Ezio into a sitting position so he could shrug the shirt off his shoulders and toss it on the floor by the bed. He put a hand on the hem of Ezio’s t-shirt, when he realized what he wanted.
“Come inside me,” he said, the words escaping his lips before he could think through the request.
Ezio’s pupils widened, making his eyes look almost black. “Are you sure?” he asked.
“Yes, Ezio. Very sure.” Leonardo punctuated this statement with a deep kiss to the assassin’s lips. In that moment, the tempo very obviously changed. Leonardo and Ezio were no longer rutting against each other like teenagers, but kissing deeply, eyes closed. Leonardo fumbled with Ezio’s t-shirt until the assassin gently batted his clumsy fingers away, and withdrew long enough to pull it over his head.
Leonardo gasped when Ezio’s torso was bared. He’d seen his friend shirtless before, but never this close. There was so much detail to drink in. His fingers began to trace what seemed to be thousands of thin white scars that covered Ezio’s chest.
Ezio chuckled. “Remind me to tell you how I got them all later,” he said gently, averting Leonardo’s hand from its explorations and entwining their fingers. His other hand reached for the painter’s other wrist, and pushed him over, holding his hands above his head. From this position, Leonardo could do very little other than respond to Ezio’s kisses, but he found he didn’t mind, and kept his hands were they’d been held even when Ezio released them to tug at the hem of the artist’s pants. Ezio looked again into Leonardo’s eyes, and Leonardo languidly lifted his hips, allowing Ezio to slide off both pants and briefs, leaving him stretched out and naked.
“Lube?” Ezio whispered against his ear as he kissed Leonardo’s neck.
“Mmm,” Leonardo hummed with pleasure, “Top drawer on your left.”
Ezio left Leonardo’s vision momentarily, and he heard a drawer open and close, and then a bottle cap pop open. He couldn’t help but smile. This was much more how he’d imagined their first time. When Ezio crawled over Leonardo again, his pants and briefs were gone as well. With one hand, he held the small bottle of lubrication. With the other, he guided Leonardo’s legs apart. Obediently, Leonardo slid his heels up the mattress until he was spread out with Ezio between his thighs. Leonardo tried and failed to keep an unbidden image of himself as a newlywed princess and Ezio as his knight-in-shining-armor-turned-prince from his mind. He dared not voice that particular fantasy—at least not yet. It was a bit too…medieval. Instead he sighed as Ezio’s fingers probed for his entrance, spreading lube along the way.
Leonardo’s muscles slowly began to welcome the intrusion, a sensation which Leonardo had not felt in years—since he started pining over Ezio. The assassin’s fingers were both thorough and gentle. Leonardo opened eyes he had not known had been closed to see his dark-haired friend carefully watching his face, propped up with one hand beside Leonardo’s hip, while the other stretched him.
Ezio’s fingers’ rhythmic movement put Leonardo at ease, relaxing him more than anyone had before and drawing little moans of contentment from his lips. Then suddenly Ezio curled his middle finger, and Leonardo cried out, suddenly burning with desire. Impulsively, he pulled Ezio down to kiss him again. Ezio held himself above Leonardo at an odd angle to oblige his partner, momentarily thrusting his own hips against the mattress, before asking, “Leo, are you ready?” At Leo’s small but distinct affirmation, he parted their lips to sit back on his heels, both hands now coaxing Leonardo’s legs even wider. When he was satisfied, Ezio pulled the painter down the mattress towards him, until his cock was pressed up against Leonardo’s hole.
Ezio pressed into Leonardo as slowly as he could manage, steadily pressing until he was fully sheathed within his friend. He looked yet again into Leonardo’s eyes, and then with a subtle angling of his hips, drew another cry from his partner, and with a roguish smile, began to move.
Leonardo tugged again at Ezio’s hair, hard enough to pull the assassin down on top of him, propped on his elbows within kissing range. Every time Leonardo tugged on Ezio’s dark hair, the assassin moaned and his hips twitched at just the right angle to make Leonardo moan as well.
The speed increased as their urgency grew, breathing harder until they had to break off kissing to gasp shallow breaths. Ezio was not only accurate in his aim, but he was pressed so closely to Leonardo that the painter’s cock, trapped between them, was stroked in time with Ezio’s thrusts.
Ezio came first, thrusting frantically through his orgasm, groaning as he spent himself and sending Leonardo over the edge with his last deep thrusts.
“Ezio!” Leonardo yelled as the assassin stroked him through his orgasm. Later, he would worry that his cry had woken the neighbors, or even the whole neighborhood, but at that moment, Leonardo was enjoying the lingering haze of pleasure that accompanied his orgasm, and staring adoringly into Ezio’s eyes. Ezio returned his gaze for a moment, before smiling and letting himself fall to Leonardo’s side, making the bed creak. Leonardo chuckled lazily, still in a state of euphoria, and turned to embrace Ezio, burying his face in the assassin’s shoulder, and remaining conscious just long enough to feel Ezio’s arm tighten around his waist.
When Leonardo awoke, it was still nighttime. A glance at his bedside clock told him it was precisely 4:13 in the morning. He turned back to Ezio, smiling at the man’s sleeping form. He did not want to wake the assassin needlessly, but Leonardo could not resist tucking a strand of Ezio’s long, wavy hair behind his ear, musing on the similarity between the vision before him and the paintings of the Renaissance greats. Perhaps, he thought idly, he knew why the Mona Lisa smiled.
He lingered long enough to think of how creepy he must look, watching Ezio sleep, and to slide out of bed. In the doorway, still naked, he hesitated. “I love you, you know, Ezio,” he whispered to his sleeping friend, “I always have.” He hoped that he would have the opportunity to repeat the confession, but he didn’t want to frighten his assassin with his feelings.
Sense of romanticism satisfied, Leonardo tugged on a pair of pants that had been left folded in the kitchen for almost a week, and wrapped himself in the silk kimono slung over the back of an armchair, settling himself on his couch with his sketchbook.
Day broke long before Ezio made an appearance, though the assassin woke at a reasonable time for any normal person. He stumbled into the kitchen around 9:30 wearing only his jeans from the day before, and making a pot of coffee on the stove, from which he handed Leonardo a cup. The murmured a small “thank you,” and went back to his work. A glow of contentment still rested over him, and he was reluctant to break it, even to talk to Ezio. The night before seemed like a dream, or better than a dream.
In the end, it was the assassin who broke their silence. “Did you mean what you said, standing in the doorway?” he asked. Leonardo jumped, setting down his sketching materials to consider his friend’s expression. As usual, Ezio left very little expression to consider, but a small smile tugged at the edges of his lips.
“Of course,” he said, unable to suppress the slight quiver in his voice, “Why else would I have said it?”
“Then I am sorry, Leonardo,” Ezio said, eyes on his coffee, and Leonardo felt his shoulders tense, and his heart clench, “That you made such a declaration in the dark.” Ezio finished, “I would have much rather heard it when you knew I was awake.”
Leonardo’s expression softened fondly. “I should have known you were awake,” he said lightly, getting up from his perch on the couch to lean against the kitchen table, where Ezio sat.
“Assassin reflexes,” the other man replied, almost in apology.
“Yet you were sound asleep when I woke up,” Leonardo pointed out.
Ezio shrugged. “You were beside me. What was to worry about?” He smiled his winning smile.
“I see,” said Leonardo, coming close enough to lean on the table beside Ezio, “But you went back to sleep when I left the room?” He was not actually suspicious, but he was enjoying this game of words, which they both knew would ultimately return to Leonardo’s declaration.
Ezio shrugged again. “I figure, based on how loud you are in flagrante, that if you were in trouble, I would hear about it sooner rather than later.”
Leonardo tried not to blush as they both chuckled. Emboldened, Leonardo ventured, “And what would you say if I said it again to you, now? That I love you, and I always have.”
Ezio pretended to consider his answer for a moment, before his assassin-swift movement pulled Leonardo down into his lap. “I would have to tell you that I have loved you for nearly as long.”
Leonardo put a hand to the lips which were attempting to kiss him. “Have… and now?”
“Now I love you and I love the way you are loud in bed.”
Leonardo’s laugh was muffled by Ezio’s lips, and they sat kissing contentedly for several minutes.
“So, what are we, then?” Leonardo asked, still from Ezio’s lap, “Boyfriends?”
“If you want to be,” Ezio returned, “Yes. Boyfriends.”
Ezio leaned forward to kiss Leonardo again, but the painter halted him with a finger to his lips. “Just to be clear,” he said, “That means we’re exclusive? Official?”
“Sounds good to me,” Ezio said, a silly grin on his face. “But,” he said, suddenly sobering, “I do not want anyone using you against me. So, perhaps I would not make it Facebook official.”
Leonardo hugged his lover—boyfriend—around the neck. “Deal,” he agreed, enjoying feeling more loved and more trusted than he ever had before.
“Good,” Ezio said, “Then may I take you back to bed? I have many years of not knowing to make up for.”
Leonardo smiled and nodded, laughing when Ezio’s response was to pick him straight up as if he weighed nothing, and carry him back into the bedroom.